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Guiyang!

From the series Cities of China


Guizhou province is located in southwest China, bordering Yunnan and Sichuan to the west and north, and Hunan and Guangxi to the east and south. The capital is Guiyang, a city which The Lonely Planet describes as “an unpretentious, relatively youthful provincial capital seemingly under continual construction.”

The city has a population of 3.4 million, that includes 36 different ethnic minorities. The largest ethnic minority group is the Miao (Hmong).

The province, and by extension the capital city, has historically been among the poorest regions in China. Until recently, it seemed China’s massive economic development might pass them by.

However, in recent years the city has set about to reinvent itself as China’s “Big Data Valley.” The Guardian has an excellent write-up of this transformation in an article from 2017:

The difference between the Guizhou of today and when I was young is huge,” declares 56-year-old Li Maoqin, a resident in the south-western province’s capital Guiyang. “It’s like the difference between the earth and the sky.” Guiyang, nestled among luscious green mountain peaks, has typically been known more for poverty than innovation. As a child, Li was so poor she went with her grandmother from village to village, begging for food. But this rapidly developing city has a plan to reinvent itself as a technology hub, attracting thousands of tech-savvy entrepreneurs to a week-long Expo, drawing big names to open data centres and embracing the self-proclaimed nickname “China’s Big Data Valley”.

Christianity was first brought to Guizhou by Catholic missionaries in 1696, who established the Archdiocese of Guiyang. Three hundred years later, in 1896, Fleming William, a member of the China Inland Mission, became the first Protestant missionary to the province. Two years after that, he and a Chinese believer were killed by Chinese who thought they were smuggling weapons to one of the local ethnic minority groups.

Today there are 17 registered churches in the city. Earlier this year, Wayne Ten Harmsel wrote a post on this site about his visit to the largest one. You can read it here.

As is the case in many places, things are becoming more difficult for local believers. Over the past few years, there have been a series of crackdowns on unregistered churches in the city, including the closing of six churches in 2018.  Prior to the crackdown, the website ChinaChange posted an in-depth article about Living Stone Church, one of the largest in the city.

Travel to the city is relatively easy, with flights from most major cities in China. It can also be easily reached by high-speed train from Kunming and Shanghai.

If you haven’t yet been to Guiyang, put it on your list of cities to visit. I know I am!

Image credit: Wikimedia
Joann Pittman

Joann Pittman

Joann Pittman is senior vice president of ChinaSource and editor of ZGBriefs. Prior to joining ChinaSource, Joann spent 28 years working in China, as an English teacher, language student, program director, and cross-cultural trainer for organizations and businesses engaged in China. She has also taught Chinese at the University... View Full Bio


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